Families today are facing a new kind of housing crisis as the economy continues to spiral downward. When one spouse in a two-career marriage loses a job, making the monthly mortgage payment becomes difficult, especially for Sandwiched Boomers. Senior citizens who have been able to pay for housing from their retirement accounts find they must cut back on that expense when their retirement funds are down by 20%. When a mortgage that began with an artificially low interest figure calls for a rate increase or a balloon payment, the cost becomes prohibitive to the nuclear family.

These scenarios are not about GenX and GenY kidults boomeranging back home, with connotations of immaturity or irresponsibility. Rather they reflect adults struggling with the real effects of a global financial meltdown not faced in over 75 years. A recent AARP study revealed that more than ¼ of the foreclosures and delinquencies last year occurred among those 50 and over. These seniors and their adult children are looking carefully at what to do to ease the economic woes that have hit everyone hard.

In some cases, younger families are moving back in with one of their parents, pooling their funds for mortgage payments. This helps both the young couple having trouble making ends meet and the older parents coping with reduced retirement income. Others have turned to ‘granny flats’ – guest suites or small guesthouses. Seniors who give up their individual, larger homes move in to the compact units on their children’s property.

Another response by some who are feeling the effects of the economic crisis is to rent out rooms in their house or condo. In Los Angeles, the listing of rooms for rent in private homes was up 72% in October from the same time last year. Reminiscent of the small boarding houses prevalent in the first half of the 20th century, this new surge may foster more socialization among strangers who are thrown together on a daily basis.

Irrespective of the type of arrangement and the reason you will be combining two families into one home, you will need to do some serious planning before you take the plunge. Tomorrow we will give you some tips to put into play before sharing your daily life with your extended family – or a stranger – in a whole new way.

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